Stephen Dunmoye

As the 21st National Sports Festival is ongoing in Asaba, Delta State, Bayelsa FC will face FCT Football Club from Abuja in the Men’s Football final today after they both defeated Akwa-Ibom and Lagos respectively.

Similarly, in Women’s football, Lagos and Imo will be locking horns today as well after they thrashed Edo and Delta respectively.

Both finals will hold at the Jay Jay Okocha Stadium in Ogwashi Ukwu same day. The Third-Place matches for male and female football events will hold today (Tuesday) in Ogwashi Ukwu.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of Edo State Sports Commission, Yusuf Ali has poured encomiums on Delta State for accepting to host the festival at very short notice and organizing it superbly.

“We knew that Delta State would host well when they won the hosting right last year after Edo State successfully hosted a fantastic National Sports Festival in Benin City. Of course, everyone knew it was only Delta State that was capable of hosting at such short notice and the federal ministry of sports rightly obliged them,” Yusuf stated.

“Aside from the inability to camp the athletes and officials at a central place like a games village and some initial teething problem, I think Delta State have done well with the hosting of this festival. I will advise that subsequent sports festivals should be fixed when schools and higher institutions are not in session to enable the host to use the hostels and facilities.”

The former Olympian also called for the return of the festival to its original vision with the return of the junior, intermediate and senior levels even as he condemned the use of athletes who did not meet the 12 months residential rule for the Games

Yusuf added: “Inasmuch as I support the festival being opened for all Nigerians home or abroad, I still want the 12 months residential rule to apply. Some athletes resident abroad are imported within just one month to represent states and the same happens to the movement of athletes locally.

“We have to get it right so that we could return to years of old when we dominated track and field events in the continent and made an impact at the world level. I hope records will be set at the festival with the discovery of talents who would be prepared for the upcoming international games like the All Africa Games, Olympics, and commonwealth games,” he concluded.